Paav Bhaaji Masala

Fennel seeds in a wooden box
Paolo Negri/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images
  • 5 mins
  • Prep: 0 mins,
  • Cook: 5 mins
  • Yield: 1/3 to 1/2 cup (4-8 servings)
Ratings (4)

A well-loved food all over India, Paav Bhaaji is western Indian in origin. Paav means "a small bun," while Bhaaji means "vegetable." Although it has become a fast-food item in India, Paav Bhaji is so wholesome you can have it as a meal. Paav Bhaaji is a favorite hot Indian street food, and scores of vendors can be seen in streets all over Bombay, Mumbai (where it is probably most popular), energetically stirring up its ingredients on huge sizzling pans.

Paav Bhaaji is mashed vegetables cooked in curry and served on a soft bun. The curry is made from a masala--typical Indian spice mix or paste. This masala calls for asafetida, a spice that when raw exudes a bad odor of sulfur but lends the flavor of onion when cooked with other seasonings. Here's a recipe for the masala (spice mix) used to make this delicious dish. 

What You'll Need

  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 4 dry red chilies
  • 6 cloves
  • 1-inch piece of cinnamon
  • 1/2 tablespoon turmeric powder
  • 1 tablespoon dry raw mango powder
  • 2 pods cardamom (seeds removed)
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 2-inch piece dry ginger
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala powder (see recipe below)
  • 1/4 teaspoon asafetida

How to Make It

  1. Heat a flat pan over medium heat. Gently roast the cumin, coriander, fennel seeds, dry red chillies, cloves and cinnamon until they turn slightly darker and begin to release their aroma. Remove from heat immediately and cool.
  2. Grind all the ingredients - including the garam masala powder - together in a dry coffee grinder, until a fine powder is formed. Store in an air-tight container for up to 4 weeks.
    Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
    Calories 48
    Total Fat 1 g
    Saturated Fat 0 g
    Unsaturated Fat 0 g
    Cholesterol 0 mg
    Sodium 102 mg
    Carbohydrates 10 g
    Dietary Fiber 3 g
    Protein 2 g
    (The nutrition information on our recipes is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. Individual results may vary.)